Few days ago I was having one of my philosophical musings. Expectations. That’s what came to my mind and I wanted to go deeper on that thought. One of the immediate thought was about the famous novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I had heard about it growing up and thought, maybe the author was thinking along the same lines too. I have not read the novel but going by the summary, I could see his point. 

I have recently been applying & interviewing with companies for a new job. I couldn’t help but notice my vulnerability to expectations. Every time I would find a interesting position ( big salary jump ) my imagination was set loose. Expectations would start building up. After applying to a few jobs, it felt like drowning in expectations. Definitely not a recipe for happiness. That’s when the message in Bhagavad Gita really hits home. We have the right to our actions but not to the fruit of our actions. Simple and profound. 

The tricky part is that expectations also help us to progress in life. I have read in numerous book and in positive psychology that in life we don’t get what we want, we get what we expect. If we expect a good job, we are likely to get a good job. If we expect a partner of our liking, we are likely to find that person. Throughout my life, I have been blessed tremendously and I have expected those things to happen. 

It can be easy to get caught up in the web of expectations. Expectations from others, then trying to live up to expectations of others. Personally, I have learnt to understand the expectations I have from myself and try to be more careful with it. On a humorous note, I experienced joy & excitement when I received a stimulus check here in US from the government, largely because I wasn’t expecting the government to do so – my expectations were very low. And maybe that’s a lesson, have no or little expectations – this way there is no disappointment if things don’t go your way and when they do, it gives you joy and happiness. I will be the first to admit, lot more easier to say than do. And that’s been part of my spiritual journey, just progressing along the path to lead a purposeful & joyful life. 

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Aditya Shahi

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